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November 05, 2004

Who are these people who voted for Bush?

Timothy Burke has written an insightful essay exploring what drives the people who voted for George Bush; why the Democratic party failed to reach the majority of American voters; and what changes can be made to correct this failure. 

I think Burke's essay is so good that I have quoted it's essence at length below.  Do yourself a favor, though.  Click here to find and read the entire text.  Because of its lenght, Burke has posted it in pdf format, so you'll need to click a second time when you get to his website.

Much as I would like to think so, it’s . . . not enough to wait for four more years of failure, dishonor, and malfeasance and thing that this will make enough people come to our point of view. [T]he case was made very clearly this time that Bush and his colleagues were incompetent. More than anything else, this has fueled the despair among those of us who oppose him. Can’t they see? Don’t they know? Are they stupid? Are they blind?

What I’ve had to face is the last three days is this: a desire for competency and respect for political process is a cultural value, as surely as abortion is. My intense belief in the importance of those things is just that, a belief. More to the point, it is a self-serving belief that advances the interests of my own social class. I believe in the importance of competency, knowledge, "best practices" of decision-making because I’ve been trained to be apart of an elite that holds those things to be of importance, and aspires to them as a matter of course. I believe in those things as a way of life, as a part of self and identity, as deeply as any evangelical believes in the spiritual presence of Jesus Christ in all things.

[Bush supporters] look for a leader who symbolically summarizes and emphasizes the values and beliefs that sustain their lives within their own communities and that connect them to the larger imagined community of the nation. [They do not] have any reasonable expectation that competent governance will address the priorities and issues they face in their everyday lives. They do not think that good or bad policy can help or hurt them.

 

[Bush supporters hate us.] [T]hat hatred is based on a rational parsing of economic and social facts, and implicit understanding of the drift of American history and its likely forward arc. . . . They hate us because we are in economic and social and cultural terms the winners, the owners of the future. Because they are the losers.

People living in many of the communities that compromise the red states are there because they could not or would not leave. . . . Why should the love us? We steal their children, we kill their towns. We show the next generation the bright lights of the big city everyday and we ask them to love us for doing so. . . .

Whomever is left in the red states is left because they have no skills which are transportable, because they have no capital to pay for the costs of relocation, because they have no social networks to act as their safety net in the blue-state world, because they have family or friends who are not leaving and they cannot bear to leave, because some dominant person in their life terrorizes them and bullies them into staying. Because they like it where they live and figure nowhere else could be better, even if their aren’t any jobs besides minimum-wage service jobs where they are. Because, . . . , they don’t particularly have any ambitions beyond getting along o.k.

What’s left to the red states? What do they own? They own the political system . . . [T]he conventional Democratic approach to the problems of the red-state American would do little to address its resentment and isolation. . . . The people who are left don’t want job retraining; that just fives those who get retrained transportable skills that they will use to leave. They don’t want an infusion of capital or investment that will turn their communities into yet another blue-state city or town, that will price them out of housing and living.

Burke then goes on to lay the foundation for a coalition that includes those have voted for Bush.

It is . . . characterized by an intense commitment to the universal enforcement of constitutional rights, by an uncompromising protection of free speak, free assembly, to the restraint of the power and capacity of the federal government . . . to intrude on the rights of its citizens. . . . [It] has to abandon the strong version of the welfare state, to throw overboard strong regimes of governmental regulation of business, to subject government intervention in economic and social issues to very strong-needs test and very intensive assessment of effectiveness. The rhetoric . . . would have to strongly favor meritocratic visions and conceptions of social mobility and economic policy.

Essentially this embraces the common interests of suburbanites, business elites and cosmopolitan liberals, and I strong suspect, many of the so-called "Reagan babies" and South Park Republicans," who vote Republican . . . much more for these logics than because of red-state "moral values"rhetoric. It throws overboard the union consistencies and their political allies, and to a lesser extent, throws over more conventional forms of patronage politics aimed at ethnic groups.

[Burke’s vision for the future of the Democratic Party] draws much more on 19th Century liberalism, and tires to pull out those aspects of the left-liberal tradition that owe heavier debts to that lineage. . . . [W]here the left would enter very much as the junior partner into this coalition, not as a vanguard or leadership.

Posted by dog2 on November 5, 2004 at 09:35 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

"Whomever is left in the red states is left because they have no skills which are transportable, because they have no capital to pay for the costs of relocation, because they have no social networks to act as their safety net in the blue-state world, because they have family or friends who are not leaving and they cannot bear to leave, because some dominant person in their life terrorizes them and bullies them into staying"

To characterize whole states of people as helpless retards is to demonstrate that your perspective is no larger then the tip of your nose. Apalling. Perhaps you and the writer you quote would do well by getting out more. Trips to the library do not count.

Posted by: Curt | Nov 17, 2004 3:22:34 PM

Burke's said that "[Bush supporters] . . . [do not] have any reasonable expectation that competent governance will address the priorities and issues they face in their everyday lives."

This hardly characterizes Bush supporters as "helpless retards."

I stopped by your site, by the way. The photo that you posted of the Marine was touching. (My dad is a Marine. The Marine Corp. Hymn was the first song I ever learned to sing.)

Posted by: dog2 | Nov 22, 2004 4:58:10 PM

I second Curt's comments, and add this: it is exactly this "red states are full of helpless retards" attitude that seems to me to be a huge reason that the Democrats (or elite, white, overeducated urbanites, the population this article seems to represent...not exactly a great characterization of blue states, either) lost.

Posted by: Leslie | Dec 13, 2004 1:48:03 PM

Republicans dominate at the polls because they run campaigns on fear, and there are too many ignorant voters. It's not my fault your demographic can barely read. Should you all be at WalMart anyway?

Posted by: Cyrus | Dec 29, 2004 3:07:26 PM

Fact is, we were repeating the same old behavior. Again, after 33 years of life, I have figured out that we did not work together. I woke up.

Why did we not work together? None of the good leaders could command the whole world.

None of the sacred warriors of the past came to help all the little minds get together with us.
Don't pretend your mind is not little.
Mine is really little, so to speak.
Anyway. Plans to separate are off!
Heavens would not listen to me and return, because Earth would not tell the whole tale.
Telling the story just lets you in on the insights within it.
Don't pretend there will be a rapture. I told you, I would never leave anyone behind. Not a good man, not a demon, not a single atom of your love. Therefore, we will stay here and tell the WHOLE TALE!
Do you think I did not understand?
You made me. Hah. You tried. Yeah, but I am real.
Real as you will ever know.

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 4:56:27 AM

If you don't pretend like there is something here, we will all fail.
Check it, man. I want to be with you now, so much!
I LOVE you.
Telling the tale...
It is a story I don't want to be paid for telling. It is a story of uniqueness and oneness in your own mind.
That is all, for now.
Peace and love, man.

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 4:59:32 AM

The Music Never Ends

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:01:55 AM

will there be a big war? God asked
-The Play
I am hanging on to your world
-Ryan

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:28:34 AM

When did you interpret the ship travel - going out on a boat was going to the stars, etc.?

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:29:12 AM

Tell stories!
Get your heads back in gear, get to work!
Build this place like there is no tomorrow.
Swing that hammer
Pull that plug
In my door, it's not another thug, etc.
What my songs will do is help.

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:30:24 AM

There are 6.6 billion people larger than me.
Trust me.
Can I rule?
I am almost nothing, in terms of size.
Innocent.
Not that I was not there, though for my lives - 2 one Earth, and one on Heaven.
So we went, and we thought it got complicated for you, so we are identical to the Earth over here.
That is the Tao.
I manipulated them so I could take you to Heaven. All of you.
Don't harm. Let's go!

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:37:15 AM

It did not matter anymore if I left the world. I could not escape you!
Why would I want to?
Because then I can freak on my mind, and then yours can build where you are.
Told you, yours are larger.
Don't fucking jump around. Everyone got their way, first.
Great.
Amen

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 5:38:34 AM

liberals be free with rights
conservatives be free with money
be free
thanks for this post
i am reading and enjoying Peter Townshend's works

Posted by: Ryan Sawall | Oct 12, 2005 6:03:15 AM

it symtomatic of rhe whole effort from day one , semper fi !

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 8:29:24 AM

it symtomatic of rhe whole effort from day one , semper fi !

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 8:29:26 AM

it symtomatic of rhe whole effort from day one , semper fi !

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 8:29:32 AM

it symtomatic of rhe whole effort from day one , semper fi !

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 8:29:33 AM

it symtomatic of rhe whole effort from day one , semper fi !

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 8:29:35 AM

And four years later... that's exactly right, we've had four more years of failure.

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